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Supreme Court Update – Carachuri v. Rosendo (09-60)

Feb 9, 2010 | federal court

This session, Supreme Court will be considering whether a person convicted under state law for simple drug possession (a federal misdemeanor) has been “convicted” of an “aggravated felony” on the theory that he could have been prosecuted for recidivist simple possession (a federal felony), even though there was no charge or finding of a prior conviction in his prosecution for possession.  The case is Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder (Docket # 09-60).

Oral arguments will be heard at the Supreme Court on March 31, 2010.

Under harsh immigration laws enacted in 1996 and their strict enforcement by federal authorities, even long-time lawful permanent residents (“green card” holders) with extensive family and community ties to the United States are now subject to mandatory detention and deportation if they are convicted of a drug-related “aggravated felony.”  In recent years, interpretations of this aggravated felony definition—aggressively pushed by Department of Homeland Security prosecutors and upheld by federal immigration judges—have included low-level drug possession, even when there is no jail time involved, and have included even state-expunged dispositions upon successful completion of a drug rehabilitation program.

Immigration lawyers and immigrant organizations have actively advocated against such harsh laws and policies for years.  One such organization is the Immigrant Defense Project (“IDP”) (formerly known as the New York State Defenders Association).  IDP has been challenging in multiple courts and before the Board of Immigration Appeals the government’s overbroad interpretations of what constitutes a “drug trafficking crime” aggravated felony.

Check out IDP’s great website for details about its involvement in federal court immigration litigation, which has significantly impacted the rights of immigrants.  IDP has submitted a brief in support of the Petitioner in Carachuri v. Rosendo.

Ruchi Thaker